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What is PET ?

PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic resin and a form of polyester. Polyethylene terephthalate is a polymer that is formed by combining two monomers: modified ethylene glycol and purified terephthalic acid.

PET is the type of plastic labeled with the #1 code on or near the bottom of bottles and containers and is commonly used to package soft drinks, water, juice, peanut butter, salad dressings and oil, cosmetics and household cleaners.

PET is a popular package for food and non-food products. Manufacturers use PET plastic to package products because of its strength, thermo-stability and transparency. Customers choose PET because it is inexpensive, lightweight, resealable, shatter-resistant and recyclable.

Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET) can be used to make many new products, including fiber for polyester carpet; fabric for T-shirts, long underwear, athletic shoes, luggage, upholstery andsweaters; fiberfill for sleeping bags and winter coats; industrial strapping, sheet and film; automotive parts, such as luggage racks, headliners, fuse boxes, bumpers, grilles and door panels; and new PET containers for both food and non-food products.

Fun Facts About PET

  • The PET bottle was patented in 1973 by chemist Nathaniel Wyeth (brother of distinguished American painter Andrew Wyeth).
  • The first PET bottle was recycled in 1977.
  • An estimated 9,400 curbside collection programs and 10,000 drop-off programs collect PET plastic in the United States, currently.
  • Approximate number of PET beverage bottles per pound:
    16 oz. -- 18 bottles per pound
    20 oz. -- 19 bottles per pound
    1 liter -- 12 bottles per pound
    2 liter -- 9 bottles per pound
    3 liter -- 5 bottles per pound
  • Cubic yards conserved in a landfill by recycling PET beverage bottles:
    4,800 recycled 16-ounce bottles saves a cubic yard
    4,050 recycled 20-ounce bottles saves a cubic yard
    3,240 recycled 1-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
    2,430 recycled 2-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
    1,350 recycled 3-liter bottles saves a cubic yard
  • Recycling a ton of PET containers saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • According to the EPA, recycling a pound of PET saves approximately 12,000 BTU's.
  • The average household generated 42 pounds of PET plastic bottles in the year 2005.
  • Custom bottles (which are bottles used for products other than carbonated soft drinks) represent 62% of all PET bottles available for recycling.
  • Nineteen 20 oz. PET bottles yield enough fiber for an extra large T-shirt, or enough to make one square foot of carpet.
  • It takes 63 20 oz. PET bottles to make a sweater.
  • Fourteen 20 oz. PET bottles yield enough fiberfill for a ski jacket.
  • It takes 114 20 oz. PET bottles to make enough fiberfill for a sleeping bag.

[Source Napcor]

Know the Facts

PET plastic (also known as PETE and designated by a recyclable “1”) does not contain BPA. Most single-serve plastic bottles, including those for water, soft drinks and juices, are made with PET. PET is globally recognized as a safe, recyclable packaging material. Numerous tests have created a broad scientific consensus that PET is non-toxic and is a safe material for the storage of food and beverages. Facts on PET supports the efforts of regulators to ensure that plastics are safe for the public through scientific testing and analysis.


PET is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly packaging option. A recent Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) conducted by the Allied Development Corporation determined how the environmental footprint and greenhouse gas emissions of manufacturing and transporting PET relates to alternative forms of packaging. The first study found that in North America, PET is the most favorable alternative when compared to aluminum cans and glass bottles for a 355 ml carbonated soft drink application. When measuring greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, PET containers had the best performance.

Bottlers have been consistently reducing the amount of material that goes into manufacturing beverage containers. Half-liter plastic water bottles now use as little as 12 grams of PET, nearly 40% less than the average amount just a few years ago. Likewise, soft drink bottles, though heavier to keep in carbonation, are becoming increasingly lighter. These lightweight PET bottles require fewer raw materials to produce, less fuel for transport and are still completely recyclable. We encourage the development of new technologies to decrease the environmental impact of PET containers, increase recycling services and improve consumer recycling habits of PET and other recyclable products.

[Source: Pet.com]

The symbols below can be seen under every bottle

The resin identification coding system assigns a typical symbol to each of the seven groups of plastic polymers. The symbols used in the plastic ID code consist of arrows that rotate clockwise to form a rounded triangle and enclose a number. There is also an acronym below the triangle that represents the plastic. For example, Low-Density Polyethylene is written as "LDPE". When the number is omitted, the symbol is called the Universal Recycling Symbol, indicating generic recyclable materials. In such a case, other text and labels are used to indicate the material(s) used. There are some misconceptions about the number shown in the symbols representing plastic identification codes such as these numbers indicate how hard the item is to recycle or how often the plastic was recycled. However, there is no other meaning of the numbers shown in resin identification codes symbols other than that they identify the specific plastic (these numbers have been arbitrarily assigned to the plastics by the SPI). The Unicode character encoding standard includes the resin identification codes, between code points U+2673 and U+2679 inclusive. The generic material recycling symbol is encoded as code point U+267A.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET, PETE) - Properties include clarity, strength, toughness, barrier to gas and moisture, resistance to heat.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) - Properties include stiffness, strength, toughness, resistance to chemicals and moisture, permeability to gas, ease of processing, and ease of forming.
Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride or PVC) - Properties include versatility, clarity, ease of blending, strength, toughness, resistance to grease, oil and chemicals.
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) - Properties include ease of processing, strength, toughness, flexibility, ease of sealing, barrier to moisture.
Polypropylene (PP) - Properties include strength, toughness, resistance to heat, chemicals, grease and oil, versatile, barrier to moisture.
Polystyrene (PS) - Properties include versatility, insulation, clarity, easily formed
Other - Use of this resin identification code indicates that the plastic product is made with a resin other than the six listed above, or is made of more than one resin listed above, and used in a multi-layer combination. Properties are dependent on resin or combination of resins

All of the plastic products carrying one of the above listed plastic identification codes can be used for making recycled plastic products.

[Source: http://www.plasticrubbermachines.com/articles/plastic-id-codes.html]